Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vacation--Griswold Style

My brother, Mark, has 11 year old twin boys. These boys are what one might call "mischievous". When we first moved into this house, Tom and I used to make comments about some of the unique architectural components of the place, and how our nephews might make use of them. ("If the twin boys were here, they would have jumped off that ledge by now." or "If the twin boys were here, they would have used that balcony to climb out on the roof.") Well, the twin boys came, and the twin boys didn't disappoint. In fairness to the twin boys, their father did give one of them permission to climb on my roof, after which I, myself, demonstrated how to best accomplish the task. You see, our neighbors' pet cockatoo flew the coop and stranded himself on the very top of our tall house. And so, it became necessary to launch "Operation Kidoo Rescue", where William was chosen as operant. He made it up three terraced levels of roof, where he was viciously pecked by the frightened bird. However, I am pleased to report that they both made it down safely, and relatively unscathed. Actually, the twin boys were fairly well behaved on this visit. Their father, on the other hand...

While Mark's family visited, they wanted to try as many different foods as possible. They tried the orange hot dogs (although not topped with the usual mashed potatoes and corn), sugar cane juice (this was a first for me, too--ugly color/yummy taste!), Pao de Mel (yummy chocolate covered spice cake), traditional Brazilian Churrasco (complete with chicken hearts), fresh coconut water, and as many different fruits as we could get our hands on. Sadly, we weren't able to find many exotic fruits, as we couldn't go to the big market in Sao Paulo, due to the rioting and protesting that broke out on the day that Mark arrived--(causation or correlation?? Hmmmm....)

 I think Mark took the food tasting a little too far:

We found this little beauty on the side of a very windy, VERY steep road on our way to Ubatuba. We had to take two cars. By this time, my sister Stephanie had joined us, and our little party was comprised of 14 people, complete with all of our luggage strapped on top. We looked like the Griswolds from "Family Vacation". I offered to strap Stephanie on top with the luggage to make the spectacle complete, but she wouldn't go for it. Anyway, I was slowly following Tom in the seven passenger van (loaded with seven passengers, and with a mound of stuffed suitcases atop). Now, when I say "steep", I am not talking about a gentle slope, I am talking nearly perpendicular, with 180 degree switchbacks. Well, I lost my brakes about half-way down. ("What's that funny burning smell?") Miraculously, we were able to safely stop at a turnout, without using the guardrail as a braking mechanism . It was decided that Tom would load everyone up in his vehicle and take them down the rest of the way, leaving them at our hotel, and then return for the luggage, thus giving the brakes time to cool, and hopefully be operable in order to complete our descent with a significantly lighter load. Stephanie, Mark, and I stayed with the car. In addition to the spider, we also spotted some limes growing in the dense jungle to the side of the road. The limes were hanging just out of reach, over the sheer embankment. Mark decided to play Tarzan and retrieve them for us. Steph took video of what we thought would be our brother's last moments (in order to comfort the family). Amazingly, natural selection didn't get him...this time. We later enjoyed the "jungle limes" in a fresh lime-aid. They were bright orange inside, and about 10 times more sour than any lime I've ever tasted.

We had a great time in Ubatuba. As you can imagine, we evoked a lot of stares and whispers with our sizable group invading the small streets of this coastal town. Just look at all that blond hair, and those blue eyes:

We spent a day at the beach, where everyone took turns body-boarding--even my sister, Steph, who is paranoid of the ocean. (We call that "Exposure Therapy")

Here are a few more pictures of our day at the beach:

Dig, dig, dig

I am happy to say that isn't Tom, Speedo'ed-up in the background.

Fresh, cold, coconut water--refreshing!

Someone's had too much fun!
On day two of our coastal vacation, we drove up to Paraty, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. We rented a boat for the day and made several stops to snorkel:
Sister and I relaxing on the boat.
 Catching some rays up top

Beautiful Day!


Mark and Laura

Swimming with the fishes

Stephanie even got in the water after some prodding. I believe this picture was taken soon after Mark (on the left) snuck up behind Steph (on the right) and grabbed her foot. Let's keep in mind that Steph is the one terrified of water. I thought I was going to have to drag her back in a rescue position to the boat.... A classic example of the twin boys' father misbehaving.

Stephanie forgave him, because he dove down and retrieved two sand dollars for her. I think she went too easy on him--I, personally, have a lifetime of scars (that will never heal) from the tormenting of this man.    ;-)
We stopped for lunch at a seafood restaurant on a secluded beach:
the water was clear and warm
Tom, with our boat in the background
(Thanks for making this trip possible, honey! It's a lot of work to make arrangements for that many people--especially when you are the only one who can speak the language!)

the kids

 the grown-ups
The next day, we stayed in Ubatuba for some shopping and some time at Projeto TAMAR (sea-turtle rescue):
3 of my little hatchlings

Mermaid Keira

Cute and cuddly
(Which one's cute and which one's cuddly?)

And, of course, no tropical vacation is complete without someone (Jeff) swinging, Tarzan Style, on the vines in the middle of downtown, and nearly getting himself killed by a passing car. Characteristically, this trick was first demonstrated by his dad (Mark). Natural selection? It's only a matter of time...


  1. I was just giving you material for your blog. What a nice blog it was but you have to admit it would not have been nearly as entertaining without me there. Thanks again for the great time and tell Tom thanks again too.

  2. vocês vão fazer muita falta aqui no Brasil, sentiremos muita saudade de toda a familia e o lindo sorriso que vocês tem!
    Daiane Lopes de Godoy e Familia